Inaction in the case against illegal construction proves deadly: Report

Inaction in the case against illegal construction proves deadly: Report
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Many have been trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building that were reportedly subjected to complaints in 51 legal cases, without result.

A building that collapsed in the earthquake in Turkey's southern province of Hatay had not been pulled down by the authorities despite documented irregularities, journalist Bahadir Ozgur said, citing three lawyers who had initiated legal action against the building.

An investigation had been launched upon the lawyers' application, resulting in a demolition order, but the building could not be pulled down "because no company joined in the tender for demolition," Ozgur said.

After a criminal complaint was filed against the construction company, a court ruled on 6 October 2022 to a prison term of one year over "some unauthorized modifications inside the building," and the sentence was subsequently turned into a fine of 12,000 TL (approx. $635).

The lawyers objected to the decision on grounds that no modification was made after the construction of the building and that the building had been in violation with the original architectural project from the very beginning.

"This means that the permissions for the building had been issued unlawfully," Ozgur said. "The permissions have the approving signatures of civil and mechanical engineers, architects, officials of the municipal administration, executive of the construction company, auditor's representative, and the expert in the case says that the building had always been in violation of regulations."

The lawyers eventually filed complaints against the court's judges with the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

Ozgur said that there are currently 51 separate legal cases regarding the building, but the lawyers' efforts have not resulted in any action being taken against the building or the construction company, and that many people have been trapped under the rubble after the building collapsed in the earthquake on 6 February.